John Karolefski

Editor-in-Chief, CPGmatters

John Karolefski is the publisher and editor-in-chief of, a twice-monthly ezine that focuses on building brands through retail. He is also the executive director of the Shopper Technology Institute (STI), the only trade organization for providers of technologies and solutions that engage shoppers and analyze their behavior. STI produces and hosts the annual LEAD Marketing Conference which focuses on Loyalty, Engagement, Analytics and Digital applications.

Karolefski, the former senior editor of Supermarket News, is the co-author of three books: “Consumer-Centric Category Management,” “All About Sampling and Demonstrations,” and “TARGET 2000: The Rising Ride of TechnoMarketing.”

  • Posted on: 06/02/2022

    Are consumers stumped by percent-off promos?

    BOGO is most effective, although it needs to be spelled out since I am not sure if all shoppers know what BOGO means. Also, doing percent-off is a bridge too far.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2022

    Is now the perfect time for grocers to sell imperfect food?

    Selling ugly fruits and veggies in supermarkets is not something new. For years, some grocers in Europe have had success selling these imperfect produce items -- as have some US grocers who know their shoppers. Nowadays, inflation is prompting consumers to shop differently -- buying less popular name brands, buying private label goods, and so on. It makes sense that sales of ugly produce would attract some shoppers. Sales would increase as economic conditions decrease. It's a simple as that.
  • Posted on: 05/20/2022

    Will smart shopping carts transform the shopping experience at Albertsons?

    Will smart carts transform the shopping experience at Albertsons? Hmm. No. Smart carts have been around in labs for a while, so it will be instructive to see if shoppers use them. I suspect some folks will try out these carts, but most won't because they will be intimidated by the technology (think seniors) or they don't want to be bothered. I like the idea of smart carts though. But it will be years before widespread use happens.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2022

    Is inflation the true cause of recent supermarket closures?

    I don't think inflation is the cause. People still need to eat; they still need to buy food regardless of price. Besides inflation, other factors may play a part. For example, switching stores to one offering lower prices like Aldi; having groceries delivered to the home from other merchants than the local supermarket; having meal kits delivered to the home, thus reducing the need to buy some groceries at the store. For the local supermarket, it can be death from a thousand cuts.
  • Posted on: 05/09/2022

    Grocers fret over how to pass higher costs onto customers

    Grocery could always promote their private label lines, assuming they are first rate. This is an opportunity to lure and convince reluctant shoppers that store brands are of good quality and often at lower price.
  • Posted on: 05/06/2022

    Which personalization techniques work best?

    A number of shoppers do not want to be identified through personalization. They prefer to remain anonymous either because of privacy concerns or they just do not want to be bothered. This number is higher than most marketers and retailers think. They'll have to factor this into their programs.
  • Posted on: 05/05/2022

    Are Americans getting ready to hit the brakes on spending?

    In the grocery sector, inflation has forced shoppers to spend down by switching from higher-priced name brands to lower-priced store brands Shopper negative reaction to "shrinkflation" in name brand packages has also played a role. I expect this trend will continue the rest of the year because inflation will continue, hitting shoppers in their pocketbooks.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2022

    Will ‘shrinkflation’ grow into a big problem for CPG brands?

    I have not seen any shopper studies on this topic, so I can only speculate as a consumer. It ticks me off to see less product in packages. I can understand higher prices though.
  • Posted on: 05/03/2022

    Family Dollar has a big rodent problem

    Obviously, someone is responsible and needs to be fired. Then management should trace the lack of steps that should have been taken to correct the problem, and then correct it. Bad news like this spreads. It will take years to restore the reputation of the stores.
  • Posted on: 04/28/2022

    Is timing more important than speed for grocery delivery?

    The short answer is YES. Optimizing delivery time slots is more important than speed when it comes to grocery delivery. Actually, the speed factor is getting to be a little absurd. Publix is launching 15-minute delivery in Miami. I am waiting for a competing grocer to announce 10-minute delivery in that marketplace. Once that is announced, I would advise another chain to build studio apartments for shoppers in the store's back room. The attraction? Zero delivery time because shoppers live in the supermarket.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2022

    Is palm payment past pilot at Whole Foods?

    Palm payment is a novelty that some shoppers will like, but most won't. Consequently, there won't be widespread deployment nationwide. Biometrics in the supermarket checkout lane is indeed a bridge too far.
  • Posted on: 04/04/2022

    Is curbside pickup-only grocery a viable business model?

    Why does the marketplace need a store dedicated to curbside pick up only? If shoppers want this option, their favorite and local store could provide it. My Giant Eagle supermarket in the Cleveland suburbs still offers curbside pick-up. We use it at times. I still believe most shoppers want to pick out their own meat and produce. They did so in the store wearing masks and will continue to do so now without masks.
  • Posted on: 03/31/2022

    Will retail digital media’s growth extend into stores?

    The notion of retail digital media extending into stores sounds like a good idea in theory. In practice, however, it needs to be done without excess and distraction for shoppers. Most importantly, it has to enhance the in-store shopping experience.
  • Posted on: 03/29/2022

    Walmart appears ready to quit its cigarette habit

    Why five years? How about ten. Maybe twenty.
  • Posted on: 03/23/2022

    Giant Food cuts delivery and pickup fees as online biz soars

    Customers have always been reluctant to pay fees for online order deliveries. Eliminating them will absolutely increase the online business. Time will tell if it is worth it.

Contact John


  • Apply to be a BrainTrust Panelist

  • Please briefly describe your qualifications — specifically, your expertise and experience in the retail industry.
  • By submitting this form, I give you permission to forward my contact information to designated members of the RetailWire staff.

    See RetailWire's privacy policy for more information about what data we collect and how it is used.